The Redbird Hollow trail is one of Indian Hill’s numerous paths along ridges and through forests. A naturalist’s delight, this 54-acre tract in the southwestern quadrant of the Village belongs to the Nature Conservancy and the Redbird Hollow Association. Long ago glaciers that spread to southwestern Ohio carved ridges and hollows through which streams then flowed. The glacial conglomerate in Redbird Hollow reveals the era in which the land was shaped and the physical characteristics of that time.
In the early 1900’s, an inter-urban rail line ran through Redbird Hollow, linking Cincinnati with suburbs and the villages in nearby counties. The “Swing Line,” officially named the Cincinnati and Columbus Traction Line, connected Norwood with Hillsboro. Its owners, hoping for a larger enterprise when they named it the C&C, included three members of the Swing family–thus its nickname. Narrow rails with overhead electrical cables joined Madeira with Allandale (Indian Hill) and TerracePark, and the railroad bed paralleled the stream through the hollow, where remnants of masonry abutments can still be seen.
In the early 1920’s, the Swing Line closed, and also at that time the Camargo Realty Company was formed–with a layout designed by Cleveland landscape architect A. T. Taylor. Plans included Camargo Clubhouse, golf course, riding club, polo grounds and lots to be sold as home sites. These lots were large parcels laid out on the knolls of Indian Hill’s topography, with the less desirable bottomland (“the reserve”) left vacant, including the railroad bed and Redbird Hollow Creek.
In 1963, the Camargo Club investigated the possibility of selling the hollow (still owned by the Realty Company) in order to raise funds. Landowners on both sides of Redbird Hollow sought to preserve the peaceful valley and its nature trail. Several proposals were considered: gifts of land to Green Areas Trust, donations of land to the Nature Conservancy, and formation of a private association. The property owners at the east end of the hollow donated land to the Nature Conservancy, and residents along the middle and west end banded together to create a nonprofit corporation, the Redbird Hollow.
In 1964 sixteen families formed a preservation society, donating portions of their property and paying money to Camargo Realty to purchase “the reserve”. Thus the title to the property was under one ownership, with the Association in control. The members included owners of land abutting the hollow, plus those residents of Camargo Club Drive who chose to join. The Hollow has been cared for ever since by the Redbird Hollow Association, the Village Public Works Dept., and Nature Conservancy volunteers.
Over the years the Red Bird Hollow Association has addressed issues ranging from a possible closing of the trail, to posting of restrictions, to a permit system. Adjacent parcels of land have been donated to the Association and to the Green Areas Trust. Also, in the tornado of August, 1969, many specimen trees were uprooted or had their tops snapped off; and recently the indigenous Redbud trees have been overpowered by honeysuckle, and euonymus and ranunculus vicaria threaten the forest floor.
Today, Redbird Hollow remains a serene preserve where wildflowers abound, and deciduous and coniferous trees shade the trail. Woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and owls inhabit the valley as well as deer, fox and coyote: and even a mink has been seen there. This wild remnant of Ohio forestland and stream, designated an Ohio Natural Landmark in 1983, remains a fragile oasis in the heart of Indian Hill. Association.